No breakthrough in Afghan peace efforts before 2014
10 November, 2012
KABUL: Afghanistan's government has failed to secure direct talks with the Taliban and no significant progress is expected before 2014, when most NATO combat troops withdraw, a senior Afghan official closely involved with reconciliation efforts said on Friday.
"No breakthrough is expected before the 2014 election," the official told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity.
A political settlement between the Afghan government and insurgents is widely seen as the best way of delivering stability to the country before most NATO combat troops pull out at the end of 2014.
Afghan officials were also hoping to make progress in reconciliation efforts before presidential elections in April of 2014 to decrease the chances of prolonged instability in a nation that has suffered through decades of war.
"There have been contacts here and there but no face-to-face talks have taken place," the Afghan official said of the bid to engage the Taliban.
"There have been none in Afghanistan or other countries."
There has also been scant progress on other fronts. The Taliban said in March they were suspending nascent peace talks with the United States held in Qatar, blaming "erratic and vague" US statements.
The Afghan official suggested the contacts that have been made with the Taliban have been limited.
"The contacts have taken place mostly at the provincial level. For instance, an official may meet Taliban commanders and urge them not to attack schools," he said.
Regional power Pakistan was in a strong position to help stabilise Afghanistan but needed to do more than issuing statements of support, said the official.
Afghan officials have often seen Pakistan as a reluctant partner in attempts to broker talks with the Taliban. Islamabad denies accusations that it uses Afghan insurgent groups as proxies in Afghanistan and had pledged to do all it can to end the fighting.
"In practice, they need to facilitate faster," said the official, adding that Afghanistan's High Peace Council would soon present Pakistan with a roadmap on how it could help bring peace.